Friday, January 22, 2010

Service Excellence - let's start the conversation

Kyle Baillie has contributed a post to get the conversation going on the strategic theme of Service Excellence. Thank you, Kyle.

Click "Read more" to see the entire post, then please add your comments to the discussion. New to blogging? See How to post a comment.

Over to you, Kyle. --Scott

Service Excellence: meeting student needs and creating competitive advantage - from Kyle Baillie, Manager, Office for New Students

What is the meaning of service excellence in a college environment? What steps are needed for Douglas College to fulfill its commitment to service excellence?

In my role as a recruiter, I speak with thousands of people each year about the advantages of attending Douglas College: outstanding faculty, high quality curriculum delivery, personal attention, affordable tuition and great student service.

I find that other local institutions promise similar benefits, with the exception of one point: great student service.

In Creating Magic (2008), Lee Cockerell (the former Executive Vice President of Walt Disney World) notes that:

“Products and services can easily be replicated. So if your (organization’s) competitive advantage is based on products and services alone, you are at risk. But if it’s based upon products, services and quality service, then you’ll have a competitive advantage that’s very difficult to match.”

Cockerell goes on to suggest that great service is the foundation that great products are based on, and without that great service, even the best products will go without takers. However, good products matched with great service in a symbiotic relationship, create an exceptional experience which leads to improved demand for the product. Sounds pretty logical to me.

Even if you are not one for business theories such as Cockerell’s, the argument for service excellence is still a strong one. The President has indicated that our mission to educate students and create learners will continue to be our primary focus. In this case, Maslow would suggest that the ability for our students to grow, develop and self-actualize only exists when their more fundamental hierarchy needs are also met. It is not unusual for our students to be in crisis in any number of these ways simultaneously. Without intervention, these students are in jeopardy of things much worse than failing a course. Therefore, it is through service excellence that we help to build the stable foundation for our students to learn, dream, and change their lives.

It is often said that 80% of the student experience happens in the classroom, I would agree but argue that without the 20% that is provided by student services, many of our students would never make it to class in the first place. By making service excellence a core element of the Strategic Plan, Douglas College has the opportunity to build foundations for our students that will enable them to overcome any and all challenges they may face during their scholastic career.

Now what do you think? Let's hear your comments on the theme of Service Excellence.


  1. Service Excellence - As a part of the community, I believe that one path to service excellence involves creating a more sustainable college. We need to further our work on reducing our ecological footprint in the community and look at innovative ways to provide a more sustainable educational experience.

  2. Giving this further thought, Service Excellence speaks to me about Leadership and Quality of service.

    Our College mission and values statement states:
    • that it is our duty to be thoughtful and caring stewards of the personal, physical and fiscal resources entrusted to us. We practice social, environmental and community responsibility.

    In the area of sustainable environmental action and responsibility - our college has had a green team who worked on a number of projects, with facilities, including the car pool program, the recycle bins in classrooms and hallways some small changes in packaging in the cafeteria, education and awareness on what we can personally do to make a difference, and many more things. That group no longer operates and has no formal mandate at the college.
    Our college community has a long way to go to becoming an environmentally sustainable institution. These values of stewardship are important to many employees and many students to the point where people are looking to study and work in places where this responsibility is taken seriously. You will see this mentioned in the marketing materials of other colleges.
    How will we move forward as a college community in reducing our foot print on New West and on this planet?

    As an employee I would like to see a committee struck formally with a mandate in this area and I would sit on that committee. I know there are others who also would like to continue this work and we have lots of ideas for growth, leadership and service excellence in this area. Thank-you.

    Artemis Fire